One of the most important steps when setting up Google Analytics is to define your Conversions, or Goals. Common Goals are quote requests, demo requests, phone calls, and online orders.
In other words, Goals allow you to track leads and sales generated from your marketing campaigns. Without Goals you’re flying blind and you don’t know which marketing channels are driving leads and sales and which are just wasting your marketing budget.
Now, if you’ve been using Google Analytics for a while and you’re just learning about Goals, then I have some good news and some bad news.
Let’s start with the bad news…
Goals Are Not Retroactive
I’m sorry to say this, but if you go set up Goals in your Google Analytics account today, then you will not be able to run reports to see Goals generated before today. Goals are not retroactive. They’ll only start tracking and reporting from the day you set them up.
All I can say is it’s better late then never. You’ll be much happier in a few months if you set them up today.
So that’s the bad news.
And here’s some more not-so-good news…
Your Goals May Change Over Time
That’s right, even if you did set up Goals in the past it’s possible your goals have changed since then. For example, over the past year on our website we’ve introduced new free reports and added new forms. Each new report and form requires a new Goal.
Also, priorities in your business and marketing change over time that may require new Goals. Long story short, the Goals you set up today may not be relevant a year or two down the road.
And as noted above, Goals are not retroactive. So unless you can see into the future, you’re not likely to set up all the Goals today that you will eventually need tomorrow.
That finally brings us to the good news…
Introducing Sequence Segments
Unless you’re a heavy Google Analytics user you probably have not ventured too far into the world of Advanced Segments. In fact, you may be wondering what is a Segment?
When you’re looking at a Google Analytics report, then at the top you’ll see an option to “+ Add Segment” (See below).
By adding a Segment, you’re able to slice and dice your data by different metrics. For example, you can add a Segment for Mobile Traffic so that all the reports are broken down by “All Users” as well as the Segment for “Mobile Traffic” (see below).
OK, great, but how does this help us measure Goals that happened in the past?
Click on the “+ Add Segment” button again, and this time click on the red “+ New Segment” button to create a new custom segment. On the next page you’ll be presented with an almost endless array of options. Before your ADD kicks in, click on the “Sequences” button in the left navigation (see below).
This page is where the magic happens :)
You can define any sequence of events that would define the Goal you want to track. For example, let’s say you have a blog article that is ranking high and driving traffic to your website and you’re wondering if any one of those visitors requested a quote or made an online purchase after reading your article. The sequence in this case would be:
- Visited blog article
- Visited the quote or purchase thank you page
So you could set up the Segment like this…
As you can see in the Summary section to the right of the image above, there are 18 users that fit the criteria I selected. That means, 18 people visited the blog post as the first page (or first interaction with the website) and then eventually requested a quote.
Isn’t that cool? Again, this does not rely on Goals so you can run this kind of analysis even if you never set up Goals in your Google Analytics account. Of course, I’m not recommending you skip Goals altogether. Goals will ultimately make your life a lot easier when reviewing your reports.
And with Sequence Segments you’ll now be able to run even more in-depth analysis to uncover more opportunities to improve your marketing. Happy hunting!